Freshman year I took J110, “Intro to Journalism and Mass Communications”, a basic intro-lecture on the media world, how it started, and eventually evolved into what we know it as today. At the time, I was just some 18-year-old trying to figure out my major and how this crazy thing we call college actually works.
One day, my professor introduced the class to what for some was just forgettable material that could draw a test question or two. She showed us a 55-minute video presentation by Kansas State Professor Michael Wesch titled â€œAn anthropological look at YouTubeâ€. I remember most people dozing off, but I sat there and watched intently, not knowing how the video would ultimately shape my future.
The video discussed the project Dr. Wesch had given his students to create a â€œdigital ethnographyâ€ of the life of a college student. The results were compiled into another YouTube video called â€œA Vision of Students Todayâ€ where students shared how they spent their days in college. The data is now several years old, but the numbers were eye-opening and can easily be related to todayâ€™s undergrads.
Dr. Wesch along with his students in Anthropology at Kansas State have since created another compilation of responses by asking students to â€œupload a video showing us your life, your school, and how you learn.â€ The videos have been put together into a stunning video collage at http://visionsofstudents.org/. I highly recommend checking out the website and just watching a few of the submissions to see how other students perceive our world.
That original presentation I watched nearly four years ago opened my eyes to new media and how the applications are endless. Think about how just four short years ago, none of us were using Twitter. Facebook was just becoming the juggernaut we see it as today and some of us may have still been using Myspace. Now we live in this world where everyone is on the web and we are using it for everything.
We talked about this phenomenon in another class that I feel would be beneficial to every college student in todayâ€™s world. T101, “Media Life”, taught by Professor Mark Deuze, looks at how we are all living through media. We are experiencing it through TV screens, our laptops, and our smart phones. As college students we are more in-tune with technology than our parents and grandparents so we see this shift in culture every single day. This idea can then be tied directly to our education and how we grow as adults.
As a student today, I live these experiences. Many of you reading this are going through it as well. We have our phones out in class, trying to hide it from our teacherâ€™s view. We are on our laptops checking Facebook and Twitter when we should be paying attention. I am not afraid to admit it. We sit in those classes where the teachers read off of a PowerPoint presentation and all we can think about is what we are going to do when we finish our long, exhausting day. This is how we function.
In our modern culture of academia, students need to be more than just spoon-fed facts. There needs to be visuals and real-world applications that excite students and make them want to learn. Iâ€™m obviously only speaking from my own experiences, but my favorite classes have been those where I felt connected to the material. That feeling should be true for all classes that closely relate to what students plan on doing when they go out into the real world. If you are going to be a doctor, you better be engaged and want to learn how to be the best doctor there ever was.
I would really like some feedback on this idea. Do you feel as though your classes have inspired you to be a better learner? What can be done to breed creativity in the classroom? What teachers or classes have inspired you? Please let me know. Also, if you have time, check out some of these videos I highlighted above. You may learn something about how others view being a college student in todayâ€™s world.